Prighozin's presence in Belarus 'disturbing' says president

Marcin Obara/PAP

The Polish president has called the presence of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in Belarus a serious and disturbing problem that merits a "tough" response from Nato.

Andrzej Duda, in The Hague for talks with the political leaders of the Netherlands, Romania, Lithuania, Norway, Belgium and Albania as well as the Nato secretary general, said Prigozhin's flight to Belarus after his failed rebellion against Russian leader Vladimir Putin will be one of the main topics at the forthcoming Nato summit in Vilnius.

Duda told a press conference after the talks that the most worrying issue was the possible move to Belarus of Prigozhin's Wagner mercenary group.

"The Wagner Group in Belarus, Prigozhin's presence in Belarus, this is a very serious and worrying problem," said Duda. "We must take decisions, very hard decisions. In my opinion, this calls for a very tough response by Nato."

He did not elaborate, however, on what form the response should take.

Prigozhin arrived in Belarus three days after the Wagner Group's 24-hour mutiny against Putin came to an end on Saturday. His presence in Belarus was confirmed by Reuters on Tuesday.

The Wagner Group's rebellion began on Friday after Prigozhin reported that regular Russian forces had attacked the group's camp, causing multiple fatalities. Prigozhin said he intended to "restore justice" in the armed forces and warned against opposing him.

The rebellious mercenary commander then ordered his troops to march on Moscow but, on Saturday night, he recalled them from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in a move he said would avoid bloodshed.

Prigozhin was last seen in southern Russia on Saturday night.

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